One of the only pro-LGBT Republicans is retiring from Congress

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

One of the only Republican lawmakers who openly supports LGBT equality has announced her retirement.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has sat in Congress since 1989, and is a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 27th district.

In recent years she has been one of the only Republicans to consistently break with her party’s stance on LGBT equality, often crossing party lines on equality issues to vote with the Democrats.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen was the only Republican lawmaker to vote to repeal the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and one of the only Republicans to co-sponsor the LGBT Equality Act, which would introduce federal anti-discrimination protections.

She is also the only Republican member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and Trans Equality Task Force.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

The lawmaker announced her retirement over the weekend, after more than two decades in Congress.

She told the Miami Herald: “It’s been such a delight and a high honor to serve our community for so many years and help constituents every day of the week.

“We just said, ‘It’s time to take a new step.”

The politician added: “There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I’ve said, ‘I’ve got to move on’.

“It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected.”

She lamented the lack of bipartisanship in the current era.

The lawmaker added: “I’m not one of those name-callers that think the Democrats don’t have a single good idea.

“Too many people think that way, and I think that’s to the detriment to civility and of good government. [But] it’s not been part of the calculation of retiring.”

Ms Ros-Lehtinen did not always support LGBT equality, but changed her views when her son came out as trans.

She said previously: “As parents, we wanted Rodrigo to understand that we’re totally fine with it. He’s our son, we’re proud of him.

“[You have to] love your child because that person is your child whether it’s the person you wanted him or her to be or not.

“That’s my advice to parents: Never, never reject your child. That’s unconditional love no matter what.”

Her son said: “I have full confidence she would have come to these pro-LGBT opinions whether I happen to be transgender or not.

“I think she’s genuinely a good person, she may be Republican and I may not be, but she cares about people enough and the tide of history is going so much in that direction.”